An epitome is a summary of some larger work. It’s not the same as an abridgment, because an abridgment combines selected quotes from the original source, while an epitome is an original summation. It’s also different from a biography or other biographical sketch, because an epitome is a general overview of a particular subject or period of history. The word comes from Greek via Latin, where it was used to describe something that was the perfect example of a class of things: a person, an idea, or even a piece of writing.
Pronunciation of the word epitome is fairly simple: it’s pronounced uh-PIH-to-mee, with the accent on the second syllable. English has a lot of exceptions to its rules, though, and the pronunciation that many people have is closer to “e-pit-uh-mi” (with the accent on the first syllable). This is called reader’s pronunciation. It happens when someone reads a word often enough that it becomes engraved in their brain, but they never actually hear it spoken.
To get the hang of it, practice saying the word out loud, and try to pronounce it exactly as you see it written in the text. You can also listen to examples of the word on YouTube, or look up audio clips online. Just remember to focus on the second syllable, because that’s the one with the stress. If you can master that, the rest should fall into place.